A few months ago, I joined that Sarahah site, via which people can send you anonymous messages (hmu: username dadandburied, duh).
I was expecting to get mocked and hoping to be praised. Unfortunately, I ended up getting asked heavy questions, like the one in the photo: do you enjoy being a dad or do you wish you were free?
Um, both? It’s a paradox.
I love my kids, I love being a dad, and sometimes I wish I were 25 and single and childfree as a bird.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
Most parents, and most people, for that matter, occasionally imagine what life would be like without kids, or without a spouse, or if they hadn’t turned down that one job offer, or if they had moved to London, or whatever. Life is full of crossroads and regret. For everyone.
No one wants to hear that you’re unsure about having kids, especially *after* you’ve had them! But I don’t think that’s fair.
I understand why it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. I get why I am bombarded with angry comments whenever I write a blog post that expresses anything less than rapture over my children. With the news constantly reminding us that there are truly reprehensible people out there who have no business owning children, it’s a touchy subject to even so much as suggest you don’t value yours.
Obviously, going deadbeat on your family, or worse, is abominable. But for the vast majority of us, it doesn’t get that far. It’s more existential.
And it’s totally acceptable!
I love having kids and sometimes I wish I didn’t have kids, and saying so is okay! Parenting is a paradox; it’s full of contradictions.
I am both a great father and a terrible one. Sometimes at the same time, in the same instant. I might be kicking ass with one kid, being all patient and kind and nurturing, and totally blowing it with the other, getting frustrated and angry and dismissive. I am both patient and impatient, too permissive and too strict, exhausted by the challenges and exhilarated by the milestones.
I’m not afraid to admit it. (Honesty about this stuff is kind of the point of my blog.) Because it’s not certainty and superiority that make the parent, it’s the doubts and the questions and the insecurity! That’s what pushes you to try harder, to be better, to give more.
If you’re secure in how well you’re doing, you’re probably not doing as well as you think.
It’s okay to have good moments and bad ones, it’s okay to be anxious and scared about the future, and it’s okay to wonder what life would have been like if you’d had fewer kids, or no kids, or had gotten contact lenses earlier or taken that semester abroad or moved to the west coast and were somehow ten years younger and rich and this is getting downright fantastical can I also be more successful and maybe also Iron Man?
Parenting is hard AF. Those of us who chose to have our terrible nightmarish kids are entitled to a freak out every now and again. Let’s not judge each other for admitting it.
No one should be demonized for the occasional “what if?” Imagining the carefree paradise your life would be if you’d never had children doesn’t mean you don’t love the frustrating little money-suckers.
So, do I enjoy being a dad or do I wish I were free?
This post originally ran on my Facebook page, where I encourage you to visit and yell at me for my mean jokes.